Michael Wolff, who is currently doing the rounds promoting his White House tell-all Fire and Fury, is having one of those once-in-a-lifetime publishing moments. His book, in the span of a little over a week, has gone from a blip on the radar to a cornerstone of the national conversation. It’s the topic of conversation at water coolers, in the media, and at the White House. The only problem? Getting a copy of it. Intense demand for the book has caught its publisher, Henry Holt, off guard as the Macmillan imprint scrambles to get copies into the marketplace.
Gauging a book’s traction in the marketplace and setting its print run is, arguably, one of the trickiest aspects of the publishing process. And Holt, in this instance, got it very wrong. Fire and Fury, which became a hot commodity last week after bombshell comments it contained from former (and current) White House staffers were released early by the media, is currently out-of-stock at the major chains, Amazon and independent bookstores. It’s available in limited supply at most libraries.
Amazon said in a statement that “due to a last-minute change in the release date [of the book] and heightened interest, we are working with the publisher to fulfill print book orders as quickly as possible.” The book is currently #1 in all major formats at the retailer (print, e-book and audio), with Amazon estimating it could be as much as two to four weeks before it can ship copies.
The independents, too, have been struggling with low stock. As PW reported late last week, many stores had not anticipated the demand. Some stores, especially those on the East Coast, were also dealing with slowdowns due to intense winter weather and the so-called Bomb Cyclone storm.
Barnes Noble, the country’s largest bricks and mortar bookseller, was also without copies of the title as of late last week. BN said it expected new copies to reach stores later this week. Fire and Fury was #1 in both hardcover and e-book at BN and sold more digital copies than print.
The county’s two largest wholesalers were also out of copies of the book this weekend. Ingram told PW after running out of copies over the weekend it was set to receive “thousands” and books today and thousands of additional copies throughout the next week at all of our distribution centers. “We are filling orders as these books are received,” the spokesperson said, adding that any account is encouraged to place a backorder for the book.
Baker Taylor, which is the main book supplier to libraries as well as trade accounts, said it has been steadily shipping copies and continues to do so. David Cully, president of BT, said a re-order had begun to come in on Friday should ship today and tomorrow. He is also expecting another re-order to be in by Friday and estimated that, in total, BT would have between 20-25,000 copies with the new orders.
“Of course we don’t have as many books as we would like,” Cully said. “But I think Macmillan is being fair and prudent. I think it’s a tribute to them that we started to get our re-orders in [as quickly as we did], will be able to ship them today and tomorrow.”
In a testament, perhaps, to just how intense demand for Fire and Fury is, Wikileaks briefly posted the book in full on its website. The link to the title has since been removed.
Now the worry is that Holt may lose sales because of the current unavailability of the book. If the news cycle moves on within a week, copies could start hitting the market just as interest in the book begins to die down. Competition is also coming. Two books about President Trump books–David Cay Johnston’s It’s Even Worse Than You Think (Simon Schuster) and David Frum’s Trumpocracy (HarperCollins)–are set to hit stores on January 16.
Holt, reached for comment about updates on the supply of Fire and Fury, did not respond to PW at press time.
This story has been updated with further information.